After struggling some through the early stages of the 2019 season, the NLCS version of the Washington Nationals pitching staff was brilliant.
In the current NLCS the Atlanta Braves gave up 15 runs in Game 3, with 11 coming in the first inning. Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers gave up ten runs in Game 4 and eight in Game 2. Last year, the Washington Nationals pitching staff gave up six runs total. In four games.
There has been a lot said this year about pitchers not being on top of their game because of the start up, shut down, start up, which everyone endured because of the pandemic. Quality pitchers are sidelined with injuries, postseason home runs, and runs in general are up, and pitchers are not pitching in the comfort of their home ballparks.
Maybe the two years can’t be compared. One aspect is certain. The 2019 NLCS was dominated by Nationals pitchers.
Anibal Sanchez was masterful with his performance in Game 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before surrendering a two-out single to Jose Martinez. After 103 pitches he was pulled and Sean Doolittle collected the next four outs, unscathed, to seal the victory.
Not to be outdone, Max Scherzer allowed zero hits through six innings before Paul Goldschmidt laced a single to left field. This would be the only hit Mad Max would allow in seven innings of work, while striking out 11 Cardinals hitters.
Three Nationals relievers (one being Patrick Corbin) pitched the final two innings allowing just two hits and a lone run as the Nats took a 2-0 series lead back to Washington.
Marcell Ozuna made sure there would not be any no-hit drama, by lacing a double in the second inning. However, Stephen Strasburg would pitch seven innings, striking out twelve, while allowing just one, unearned run. Two Nationals relievers pitched perfect innings each, to lockdown the win.
As the Nationals took a three games to none lead into Game 4, they had allowed just two runs in 27 innings.
It took 31 innings for the Cardinals to scratch out an earned run against a Nationals starting pitcher. By the end of Game 4, the Cardinals would score four runs. They were meaningless though, as the seven spot the Nationals put up in the first inning more or less dictated how the game would go.
A four game sweep in which Nationals pitchers had an ERA of 1.25 and a WHIP of .064. The staff tallied 48 strikeouts in 36 innings and kept the Cardinal hitters off balance over the course of the series.
Though it took a few more games, the pitching would be the backbone of the team during the World Series as the Washington Nationals stifled the Astros bats as well.
As we watch the Dodgers and Braves pitchers get lit up, we can continue to reminisce about the Nationals pitching performance during the NLCS last year.